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Councils spend £50m a year translating documents no-one reads.

Value for money? Not when it comes to councils.

It is a well-intended initiative which is meant to offer immigrants a helping hand.

Yet now an investigation has found that many of the expensively-produced foreign-language leaflets have never been read.

Documents which have failed to attract a single reader include a pamphlet for gipsies translated into Polish, and a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender directory translated into French.

No-one read the Haringey Women's Directory when it was translated into Albanian, Bengali, Kurdish, Somali or Urdu.

All were made available by Haringey council, in north London, on its website, which records the number of times each document is downloaded.
A spokesman for Haringey Council said: “Haringey has some 193 different languages spoken. We generally offer translations where required rather than translate routinely.

"Where translations are produced they will be made available on our website as an additional service.”

Dudley council, in the West Midlands, produced two leaflets that were only read once each: one called "Information for Parents and Carers" translated into Gujarati, and one called "Information for Young People" translated into Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Punjabi and Urdu.

More than 80 per cent of the recipients responded. They admitted spending £50.2 million on translations and interpreting in 2008/09, an increase of nine per cent on the figure of £46 million in 2006/07.

There is a simple solution, insist that folk speak English.

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